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Golf resort project under a cloud

Words: Roger Milne

The future of the controversial £100 million Bushmills Dunes golf resort earmarked for land close to the Giant’s Causeway on Northern Ireland’s North Antrim Coast is in doubt.

Media reports have revealed that more than 400 hectares of land where a new 18-hole championship course was due to be built has been sold off for an undisclosed amount to Dr Peter Fitzgerald, head of Antrim-based pharmaceutical company Randox Laboratories.

The consortium, headed by the late Dr Ali Hanna, the New York-based Northern Ireland businessman, won a marathon legal battle against the National Trust to win planning approval for the scheme. But it is understood to have funding issues.

Preliminary work had been expected to get under way last month. But the project, which promised hundreds of new jobs at a five-star resort – including a hotel and spa - is effectively on hold. All sides are refusing to make any comment.

The National Trust mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge over the scheme, which is planned near Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site - the Giant’s Causeway.

When permission was given for the development in 2012. Alex Attwood, the then-environment minister, said the determination was “a demanding decision not taken lightly”.